France – a few more steps to go before the realisation of a Sex Purchase Act

On March 31 the French Senate voted on whether or not the country should impose a Sex Purchase Act similar to the Swedish model. The bill was however rejected by the Senate and has now been sent back to the National Administration Office for amendment. The Act would imply a shift where purchasing as opposed to selling sex would be deemed illegal.

Prostitution is currently not illegal in France. It is however illegal to encourage purchase of sexual services, run brothels and act as a pimp. The Senate opposed the measure and instead proposed a reinstatement of a former law criminalising people in the prostitution business and the act of selling sex. This retrograding proposition does however provide incentives for the National Assembly and the government to work harder for a Sex Purchase Act like the Swedish one. Such a law would be an important step in the right direction to fight trafficking and prostitution in the country. As of today, it is estimated that around 30,000 people in France are selling sexual services.

The rejection from the Senate means that the proposition will be amended by the National Administration Office. This is planned to take place in May. The bill will then once again go back to the Senate which will have to make a decision as to whether or not it should be adopted. Should the Senate be unable to agree on the matter a special committee consisting of members of the Senate and the National Administration will be put in place to make a final decision.

Despite all this pending back and forth, we still see a possibility that this law will be adopted. This would be a huge step in the fight against sex trafficking – not just in France but in Europe as a whole.

 A prostitute from Eastern Europe waits for customers along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, November 29, 2013. Eric Gaillard/Reuters
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